WHAT I'D DO RIGHT NOW IF I WERE MITT ROMNEY
Obviously, Mitt Romney's "fire people" line has gotten him a lot of negative attention, and other attacks (and self-inflicted wounds) appear to be hurting him. We still don't know to what extent they actually are hurting him, at least among Republican voters. We'll start finding out tonight.
I'm still inclined to play the contrarian -- I think GOP voters have Romney's back on this issue ... or, rather, they would have his back if they actually liked him, or trusted him, or felt in their bones that he'd be the liberalism-smasher and socialism-smiter of their dreams. At this point, it's possible that they're starting to turn away from Romney because they think he won't be their avenging hero after seeing him on the defensive about this capitalism stuff, not because they actually disagree with him in any way. (GOP voters' fantasies are impossibly naive: they really want someone who will never seem to be on the defensive; they imagine someone, essentially the reincarnation of their opium dreams of Ronald Reagan, who can just mow down the liberal/socialist/media/Hollywood/elitist/Muslim/non-white/gun-grabber/RINO enemy without suffering a scratch.)
In any case, the first thing I'd do if I were Romney right now is to get my researchers looking for evidence that the failed companies in Bain Capital's past were brought down by Evil Big Government. The evidence doesn't have to hold up under a lot of scrutiny -- just enough to persuade readers of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Blame it on government! Blame it on taxes! And regulation! Find something Barney Frank did that can be tied in some way, vague or otherwise, to the failure! That's what the GOP rubes want to hear.
And then, after that, if I were Romney, I'd do the right-wing version of Obama's race speech: a speech defending capitalism, and rhapsodizing about its wonders and glories and the beneficence it rains down on mankind, all while focusing on the nobility and heroism of Romney's own capitalist record. Come on -- isn't that what the punters really want from Romney? And don't you think you couldn't throw a rock at a right-wing think tank without hitting some callow Randbot who could write such a speech in his sleep?
Ride the white capitalist steed, Mitt. Get Peggy Noonan to polish the final draft so you sound like a guy running Potter's bank while talking like George Bailey, and even the swing voters in the fall will think it was a hell of a speech. Take advantage of America's woeful lack of class consciousness, dammit!
UPDATE: I hedged my bets in what I wrote above, but it's possible this Bain/pink slip/fire stuff isn't hurting Romney at all in the primaries: the latest Suffolk daily tracking poll of New Hampshire actually has him up 4 points, while his main antagonist on this, Newt Gingrich, is down 2. Maybe Romney is rallying the Randroids in his own party and alienating the general public! That would be awesome. (But we'll see about the latter in upcoming general-election polls.)
UPDATE: And meanwhile, Romney beats Obama by 2 in a CBS poll conducted January 4-8. A lot has happened since then, including everything discussed above, but this suggests that Romney is a lot more formidable a candidate than we'd like to believe, and perhaps that the public across the board is disturbingly comfortable with Bainism.